Department of Kinesiology

Why Study Kinesiology?

Kinesiology is the study of human movement. It is a dynamic and growing field with applications to a wide array of allied health, medicine, fitness, education, sport, and recreation related professions.  An undergraduate degree in Kinesiology will provide you with the breadth and depth of knowledge you need to successfully pursue graduate programming or entry level professions in the field.

The primary mission of the Department of Kinesiology is to provide quality academic professional preparation for undergraduate students in areas related to the study of human movement, especially as it supports the pursuit of lifelong physical activity and well being (with concentrations in health & fitness education, health and fitness promotion, exercise science, and pre-physical therapy). We strive to prepare future leaders who will positively impact the health behaviors and physical well being of individuals and of society through the education and promotion of life-sustaining and life-enhancing pursuits. The successful completion of our majors demands a strong integration of the liberal arts and sciences with thorough professional preparation in light of respective state and national standards, accrediting bodies and certification programs. Internship experiences are an integral and required element of all majors in the department and allow for students to further develop and apply their education and training in real world, professional settings.

The Major and Minor Programs

The department offers two degree programs from which students can choose. While each share common elements and a commitment to promoting health and well being, each is unique in its course offerings and potential career opportunities.

The Bachelor of Arts Degree in Kinesiology (BAK) includes options in Health and Fitness Education (with teacher certification option) and Health and Fitness Promotion.  

Health and Fitness Education: The Health and Fitness Education program includes a rigorous set of theoretical foundations courses, a core set of applied pedagogy courses and one semester of full time student teaching or an internship.   Students seeking K-12 teacher certification earn their initial teaching certificate in both physical education and health education, along with their Bachelor’s degree.  Students with a passion for working in youth programming outside of the regular school system can complete this option without pursuing formal certification.

Health and Fitness Promotion: A concentration in Health and Fitness Promotion provides preparation for work in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer, corporate fitness or wellness director, youth programming specialist, senior wellness instructor, or in one of many other careers that focus on preventative health and well-being through physical activity promotion and programming.  Students with an interest in issues related to public health, health education, and program development/leadership are well served by this option.

The Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology (BSK) offers two different pre-professional concentrations: Exercise Science and Pre-Physical Therapy.  Both of these concentrations are designed to prepare students for required graduate study (i.e. Physical Therapy, Athletic Training, Sport Psychology) or to begin a career in personal training, corporate fitness, public health & fitness, etc.

Exercise Science: A concentration in Exercise Science provides preparation for graduate school in any of the sub-disciplines of Exercise Science including Exercise Physiology, Kinesiology, Bio-mechanics and Sport Psychology.  It is also well suited as an entry point for graduate studies in allied health fields such as Occupational Therapy, Chiropractic Medicine, Nursing and Physician Assistant programs. This degree option is also well suited for the student with a strong interest in the sciences and their research applications to sport, physical activity and health.  

Pre-Physical Therapy:  A concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy provides preparation for entry into Doctor of Physical Therapy degree programs throughout the United States.  Graduates of the Pre-Physical Therapy Program at PLU are admitted into Physical Therapy programs at rates that exceed the national average.  The degree is heavily centered on the natural sciences and includes an internship placement in one or more physical therapy clinics in the region.  

Students in all majors participate in a semester long internship or student teaching experience in public schools, government agencies (such as Pierce County Parks & Recreation and Pierce County Health Department) or private corporations and agencies (such as the YMCA, hospitals, fitness centers, professional athletic teams etc.). Opportunities for faculty-student research and collaboration are also available.  In addition, four distinct minors can be used to compliment majors within the department, or can be pursued by majors outside the department in areas of personal or professional interest. These minors are Coaching, Personal Training, Exercise and Sport Psychology and Pre-Athletic Training.  The department also offers a Kinesiology (General Studies) minor for non-majors with an interest in the field.

Promoting Well Being for All PLU Students

In addition to the professional degree programs, the Department of Movement Studies & Wellness Education provides a diverse array of physical activity instruction for students as part of the General University Requirements (GUR) of the university. All students are encouraged to try new activities and to begin or continue a lifetime commitment to active living.

Activity instruction is provided in over 30 different activities spanning from traditional fitness activities such as aerobics, weight training, and yoga to an array of sports such as basketball, tennis, bowling and badminton, to a variety of activities uniquely suited to the Pacific Northwest such as mountaineering, sailing and scuba diving as well as a variety of dance courses. The goals of these classes are to 1) develop in each student a fundamental respect for the role of physical activity in living, including the assessment of physical condition and the development of personally designed, safe, effective and functional fitness programs with attention to lifetime activities and 2) to expose students to a diversity of physical activities and experiences in a manner which enhances understanding of their educational, social, spiritual, ethical and moral relevance. The program provides opportunities for all participants to develop and apply a knowledge base regarding physical activity, psychomotor and behavioral skills, which encourages the development of lifelong health and wellness.